Precious and Fragile Things

Precious and Fragile ThingsBy Megan Hart

Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: December 21, 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Source: Netgalley

Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by the endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn’t immediately consider the consequences when she’s carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she’ll finally get some rest. Someone can save “her” for a change.

But salvation isn’t so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gilly knows she must never forget he’s still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him.

Goodreads Summary

Obviously every reviewer has their own set of criteria for rating a book.  When I go into one that I know I’m going to review, there are two things I always measure that get factored in and the rest are subjective from there.  The two constants though are the technical quality of writing and whether or not the author made me care at all about the characters.  I want good writing and I want to either be in love or pissed off.  Well, I got both with Precious and Fragile Things, along with a book I wanted to forget as soon as I was done.

Gilly Solomon is ripe for an emotional breakdown.  With two young children needing every scrap of attention her clueless, absent husband doesn’t and a household falling down around her ears, she’s been reduced to locking herself in her closet and screaming into her clothes sometimes.  When she’s kidnapped at knifepoint at an ATM one night, her initial terror turns to a strange calm.  It doesn’t take her long to realize she’s actually welcoming the peace and quiet and when given the chance to escape, she makes a deliberate choice not to.  It isn’t until she’s actually at the cabin where she’s to be held that she starts thinking about the bad choices she’s made.

Todd hadn’t ever intended to take Gilly, just her truck.  He deliberately gave her the chance to get free, but now that she’s with him he has no idea how he’s going to be able to end their situation without some kind of violence.  He’s been to prison and he’ll do anything to avoid going back, including killing her.  As the winter progresses though, he tries to befriend Gilly, who sees building any relationship with Todd as an acceptance of what he did.  He eventually reveals the horrible past that brought him to the cabin, one that stirs an uneasy mothering instinct in Gilly and leads to a sort of quasi-truce for a very brief time.

I should get out of the way first that I’m a mom.  I understand perfectly well a lot of what Gilly was thinking in the beginning of the book; in a lot of ways, it’s kind of a universal truth among moms at some point that you’d like to take the proverbial day at the hotel while the kids go to Disneyland without you.  I also understood that Gilly had serious hatred for Todd.  Where she alienated me was with her incessant internal monologue in which she thought of herself as the ultimate martyr, coupled with her actions with Todd, where she was the professional victim. She lost me when she deliberately hurt herself rather than accept any common courtesy from him. She was depressed about not being able to go home, so she stripped out of all the clothes he’d given her and walked into the snow in just the underwear she owned. Those are hardly the actions of a woman wanting to get home to her children, no matter what her mental state was. She was utterly unlikable.

I don’t even know what I felt for Todd because he was such a slippery character.  By turns hardened would-be killer, pitiful and hurt child, exuberant young man and angry captor, he was as inconsistent as Gilly was predictable.

This is a disturbing book.  It tackles subjects that aren’t always pretty and that can’t be resolved in simple, tidy ways.  Beyond my issues with the characters and without giving any specific spoilers, the back chapters of this story went beyond implausibility and made me feel duped that I’d even cared about what happened to these two.  It’s no joke that I had to read something else right away to take the taste of this out of my head.

The reason my rating wasn’t lower?  Because of those two things I mentioned in my first paragraph: Hart has impeccable writing skills and I actually had feelings for Todd and Gilly.  They may not have been good feelings, but the writing was strong enough that I knew who they were and how I felt about them.

My Rating: C-

Barbara

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Comments

  1. I'm a semi-fan of Megan Hart. Some of her books are good, but they are all one time reads for me. I saw the ad on Goodreads for this one and it looked a lot different than her norm. So thankful I read this first! I don't really want to read a book where I end up hating the characters. It's particularly annoying when the main female character is a whiny, emotional nitwit. See? I'm getting frustrated about her just reading your review, so there's no way I'd make it through the actual book!

  2. I have such mixed feelings about Hart. I do love her writing sometimes, but I often end up really not liking some of her characters and the last two full books of hers that I read (this one and Naked) disturbed me enough even days later that for my own sanity, it's just better if I don't go there anymore. I really liked her portion of the Naughty and Nice anthology and some pieces she did with Lauren Dane, but …I feel badly when I just can't give a good review.I understood Gilly in the beginning and I know where Hart was coming from with her, I just think she went too far and the ending just absolutely killed me. It seriously, seriously was boggling. It probably made Nocturne look happy (that's the one where the girl got kidnapped too, right?). 😉

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